SciFi Japan

    20TH CENTURY BOYS -CHAPTER 2- Cast and Crew Comments

    The Filmmakers Discuss Their Blockbuster Japanese Sci-Fi Movie Series Source: NTV (Nippon Television Network) Official Movie Site: 20th Boys Special Thanks to Asuka Kimura and Tzeling Huang SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie. The following interviews are courtesy of Nippon Television Network. For more information and images from the movie please see SciFi Japan`s earlier report, 20TH CENTURY BOYS -CHAPTER 2- Production Notes. Etsushi Toyokawa as Otcho "15 years has passed between the first and second chapter of the mega saga of 20TH CENTURY BOYS. Our toughest challenge in bringing this saga to audiences was to transport them to 2015 in a convincing way. Everything conceivable was done by the director and actors to realize this. Special makeup was applied to age us by 15 years which also assisted us in our performances, although it was physically taxing to go through the 2-hour makeup application every day."

    "The makeup artists and I talked a lot about hair color options and the affect of aging on skin. In the comic series of 20th Century Boys, Otcho`s hair shows signs of receding in 2015. Initially we wanted to keep as close as possible to the original comic series so I tried on a bald cap. The result was not too convincing so we opted not to go with the balding look." "Otcho in the first movie was a tough, heroic figure who`d gone through a lot in Thailand`s ruthless underworld. He continues to be the tough guy in this movie. After he breaks out of Umihotaru Prison, he has many encounters with people with crucial information about Friend and helps solve the 2015 mystery in Tokyo. Playing his character meant doing many unusual and fantastic things. But in the 20TH CENTURY BOYS universe, it wasn`t unusual so I got used to it when I was playing his character. I really enjoyed all the action-hero scenes. The scenes where my character rescues Kanna at the church and where Otcho confronts Friend alone were particularly exhilarating." "In this movie, Otcho has a sidekick, Kakuta. I got the feeling that the director wanted to bring a buddy element to the film with their relationship and comical interaction. Otcho has very strong feelings for Kanna. He calls Kanna the last hope and really thinks of her as special. I think it comes from his strong feelings for Kenji. Otcho thinks of Kanna as Kenji`s legacy." "While Otcho interacts with many characters, there are episodes in the movie where he doesn`t feature. It`s a complex, big movie. The tone and the pace of the movie are totally different from the first chapter. I hope you`ll enjoy this very different 20TH CENTURY BOYS, set in 2015." Takako Tokiwa as Yukiji Setoguchi "I was very grateful that they made me look pretty in the first movie (laughs). From CHAPTER 2 and onward, Yukiji is in her 50s so I have to wear special aging makeup. So my youthful face in the first movie was short-lived!"

    "I tried not to walk too briskly when I was playing a woman in her 50s. In the first movie, the director asked me to stand with my chin up and my shoulders raised to express the toughness of Yukiji`s character. But in this movie, I was slightly hunched over and I lowered my voice. I didn`t emphasize her age too much though because she does judo and is fitter than most women in her age." "Yukiji`s role in this movie is to support Kanna in Kenji`s absence. All the Secret Base Gang think of Kanna as a daughter. And Yukiji is particularly protective of Kanna and has stronger feelings for Kanna than anybody else, even Otcho. Yukiji is single but she draws strength waiting for Kenji`s return and as she looks after Kanna, she doesn`t seem lonely. Airi Taira, who played Kanna was our little Kanna on the set. I was always checking to make sure if she wasn`t hungry or cold. Also as she worked so hard, she gave me a positive energy." "There`s a scene in the movie where my character reads pages from Ujiko-Ujio`s comic book and says, "I`m not interested in superficial romance. I`d rather read something about a man who`s out to save the world, no matter how ridiculous it sounds." I believe that line reflects the opinions of all the 20th Century Boys readers. Personally I like such heroic comic stories, too. I love stories that unfold to make me feel good and make me want to yell, "Yes! Go for it!" There`s nothing wrong with romance and tear-jerkers but I want something that make me feel empowered and braver. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is that kind of story, with depth." Airi Taira as Kanna Endo "Just a few days before the audition for the role of Kanna, a friend of mine told me about an intriguing comic series called 20th Century Boys. Then my agent called me about the audition and I read the series. I could identify with Kanna so I really wanted the part. I went to the hair salon and had my hair cut just like Kanna and went to the audition."

    "I`m very similar to Kanna in a way I`m also a tomboy and very emotional. Another thing is that I love to run. I don`t know if Kanna likes to run but from the beginning of the first movie, she`s running. In this movie she`s always running. I love running and I usually wear pants and sporty clothes." "One big difference between Kanna and me is that she is independent and influences others. I`m far from that, always getting lots of help from the other actors and crew. I had pressure to act like Kanna even between takes and sometimes it was too much. Takako Tokiwa and Teruyuki Kagawa gave me lots of advice. I was often too emotional and ended up crying when I was performing. Kagawa told me that it was natural to cry in the first half of the movie because Kanna would cry about the absence of her uncle. He also suggested that it would help me if I empathized with Kanna once she`d decided to carry on Kenji`s hopes. I tried that and it worked." "To stay in synch with Kanna`s determination to carry on Kenji`s hopes, I always listened to his song on my iPod. It was my ritual; if I cried listening to the song, I`d give a good performances that day." "I like Kanna`s line, `Uncle Kenji never ran away.` She refuses to turn away from the truth about Friend. 20TH CENTURY BOYS -CHAPTER 2- is packed with exciting scenes and complex plots but if you watch it from Kanna`s viewpoint, it`s very easy to follow. I hope you`ll enjoy solving the mystery with Kanna." Teruyuki Kagawa as Yoshitsune "My character`s appearance changed drastically after the first movie which made me apprehensive but it turned out fine. I owe it to the makeup artists who made it possible for me to play the part of Yoshitsune in his 50s. It wasn`t just their skills but the environment they provided. They had me lie down on a portable bed which made the 2-hour-long makeup ordeal easier to endure. Lying down helped me to get into character too."

    "What was a challenge was keeping my mouth at a lower angle. Makeup helped but I had to also consciously lower it myself. In the comic series, Yoshitsune`s mouth is really low and sagging due to old age. It was difficult keeping it down all the time. I also had to consciously stand in the girlish pose I`d established in the first movie." "I was given custom-made glasses, too. If I`d worn glasses as strong as Yoshitsune`s in the comic series, it would have made me dizzy. So special glasses were ordered. They were as thick as they appear in the comic series but weren`t corrective at the center of the lenses. They limited the range of my vision but I rationalized that the limited vision would reflect how Yoshitsune saw the world and I enjoyed it." "With his changed appearance Yoshitsune is now the leader of an anti-Friend group. But probably he hasn`t changed internally. I think he`s always had some kind of inferiority complex. He`s never too sure about his position in the group. Because he has to support Kanna in Kenji`s absence, Yoshitsune reveals a passionate side, too. But I tried to keep my performance low key so I wouldn`t stand out. It`s the right balance for the ensemble cast. It suits Yoshitsune because he`s really like a cockroach scurrying around (laughs)." "Yoshitsune may appear insignificant and may never excel in a working environment but I think his character evokes an important message about taking responsibility for our own life because each of us is the star of our own lives." Yusuke Santamaria as Sadakiyo "Sadakiyo is a very sad man. He was bullied as a child and he feels oppressed as an adult, too. He works as a school teacher but still believes in UFOs and cherishes a robot toy from his childhood. I guess he`s immature. But he`s also protective of his students and I wanted to emphasize that side of him, too. I felt sad playing this character, so it was very helpful to talk to Airi Taira who played Kanna and Haruka Kinami who played Kyoko Koizumi between takes for a change of pace."

    Naohito Fujiki as Chono "Chono is an incompetent rookie cop. I was apprehensive about playing a rookie as I`m a bit too old but I had no reservations about playing a weak-minded, incompetent character because I often play that type (laughs). Chono gets involved in the historic events revolving around Friend. Until now he has had no reason to question the way things are but when he realizes that something`s wrong he takes action. I hope that the audience sees his transformation. People tend to accept their circumstances unquestioningly so I think my character represents the viewpoint of ordinary people." Hidehiko Ishizuka as Maruo "The movie takes place 15 years after the first chapter. The Secret Base Gang looks much older. Maruo`s appearance has changed, too, but for some reason I didn`t wear makeup to age me. It made me question why they didn`t think it was necessary. But dark glasses made me look exactly like Maruo in the comic series, so I felt fine. The most memorable experience for me on CHAPTER 2 is the Namio Haru`s concert scene on Niigata location. We went to Niigata because the scene called for a snowy landscape. But I was shot against a wall without any windows so the snow couldn`t even be seen outside. When I look back on that, I wonder if it could have been shot in a studio in Tokyo after all (laughs)!" Takashi Ukaji as Mon-chan "In this chapter, my character Mon-chan has an illness. Probably each person has a different way to relate to his/her life, but I think that the journey of life gets dramatically defined when one faces death. When the Secret Base friends unite to fight it`s due to the critical nature of their circumstances. Mon-chan`s illness makes him realize that time is short so he decides to live his life to the fullest. As a result of this he comes very close to the center of the mystery that surrounds Friend through his investigation. I`d be happy if the audience looked at my performance and saw my character`s will to defy death." Fumiyo Kohinata as Yamane "My character only appeared briefly in the class reunion scene in the first chapter. But in this movie he has scenes that leave a bigger impression on the audience. He`s so intelligent that he`s probably a genius but he`s pitiful. He`s a science geek and incapable of adapting to the world. Personally I`m much more drawn to a person like Yamane. Though my scenes are depicted differently from the comic series, I really like the climactic scene my character appears in. I hope you`ll enjoy decoding the nuance of my portrayal of Yamane. I also really enjoyed the scene with Kiriko who was played by Hitomi Kuroki. Her performance in the scene was so uncompromising in its intensity that it was very stimulating."

    Haruka Kinami as Kyoko Koizumi "Even before I was cast as Kyoko Koizumi, my friends used to tell me that I looked like a character straight out of Urasawa comic books. It was very easy for me to play Kyoko. It doesn`t mean that I always behave like her though (laughs)! I studied the comic series closely and perfected Kyoko`s exaggerated mannerisms. I think Kyoko is a girl who doesn`t really think much. That`s why she is quite unaffected even when something terrible happens to her. So I had to seem disengaged when I performed which was sometimes difficult. In the serious scene between Kanna and Sadakiyo, I was so emotionally involved that I almost cried but I had to hold back my tears." Mirai Moriyama as Kakuta "I`m a big fan of the 20th Century Boys comic series. When I read it, I realized that the character of Kakuta was modeled after the late, great Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga, both spiritually and physically. When I was offered the role I was intrigued. Before shooting began I visited Naoki Urasawa to ask him what he thought was important in the portrayal of a comic book artist. I got the impression from our discussion that actors and comic book artists have similar creative impulses. I don`t draw very well but I can identify with my character`s creative impulses. I tried to keep in touch with Kakuta`s struggle and dedication to his creativity." Arata Furuta as Namio Haru "I appreciate being chosen to play this part apparently because of my similarity to my counterpart in comic series. When I was first approached about the role, I couldn`t help laughing to myself though (laughs). Eyes are the most crucial point in the resemblance. Also important are slightly elevated inner corners of my eyelids and inner corners of the mouth. I collected the posters of Haruo Minami [an enka star on whom his character was based] and studied his singing choreography. Enka`s trademark choreography involves making a fist and spinning it. When I sing rock songs, I always make a fist anyway so it was easy to imitate. I think rock`n`roll and enka have a similar vibe. When we shot the concert scene in Niigata, extras learned `The Hello Hello Expo Song` choreography and danced along. I loved the experience." Eiko Koike as Takasu "All the actors are made to look exactly the same as the comic series counterparts they play, except me. I was told not even to bother to have my hair look similar so I was very nervous to play this role. I intended on speaking in a low voice and playing it cool, but the director told me to play the part with an intensity and speak with such energy that my voice becomes falsetto... I hope my Takasu is an acceptable version of the comic series counterpart. Between takes, the guys who played the Dream Navigators practiced their signature `Thank you!` calls and their moves in perfect unison. They were perfectly synchronized with each other and I enjoyed playing the leader, giving orders to them." Hitomi Kuroki as Kiriko "Playing the character of Kiriko again in this movie made me realize that she`s never happy, she`s always tragic and on the edge (laughs). In this movie, she`s especially sad and tragic when she learns that the path she`s chosen has brought horrible consequences. She always has Kanna on her mind and wonders what she can do for her. This movie is as entertaining as the first chapter. I hope you enjoy it just as much."

    Yukihiko Tsutsumi, Director "CHAPTER 2 is a non-stop monster of a movie" "While I was editing this movie, I started to realize that I`d created a monster! When we made the first chapter of the trilogy our principle was to be as truthful to the original comic series as possible and to inject it with a rock`n`roll spirit. The second chapter is radically different. Events in the original 20th Century Boys often jump across time and space. That makes it easier for us to cut together in the movie adaptation. In CHAPTER 2, we really cut and pasted and shuffled the scenes and added and subtracted dialogue in the editing stage. It went through many changes and the process was quite thrilling. It was like finding a virus in a Petri dish that suddenly mutates into something huge and monstrous."

    "This movie revolves around the secret of The New Book of Prophecies and Kanna`s actions. It`s a highly suspenseful story in which Kanna opens the Pandora`s Box, so to speak, and endangers herself. The mystery deepens as the movie spins a web of mystery: Who is Kanna`s father? Who is the savior? And who is Friend? Many new characters step into profess secrets they know, making the web even more complicated." "The movie has multiple protagonists and antagonists. There are Kanna, Sadakiyo, Yamane, Otcho, Yukiji, Yoshitsune, Chono, Kyoko Koizumi, Kakuta as well as many others. We had to create concise episodes for each of them with their own climatic moment. The result is a non-stop roller-coaster-ride of a movie. As if it had a mind of its own, it started to roll beyond my control. All the actors and crew started rolling with it. 20TH CENTURY BOYS is one hell of a big rolling stone!" "I have an awful lot of respect for Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki, who created the story of 20th Century Boys from scratch. My job was to bring their creation to life as realistically as I could. I had a desire to build a futuristic Japan in 2015 with detailed CGI. Overseas locations at New York, London, Paris, Rome, Beijing, etc. gave me a chance to show Japan`s position in the world in the future. Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku in 2015 is a melting pot of ethnicity, so we hired many foreign actors. With many scenes and an incredible number of extras, the movie is impressive in its scale." "Kamisama has a line in the movie, `Japan is now full of poor people.` Wherever we look, Tokyo 2015 is full of people down and out and confused. Shinjuku, Sugamo, Shimbashi...all these Tokyo suburbs have a BLADE RUNNER dystopian feel. The faces of passers-bys as well as the major characters all reflect the shadow of the future they live in." "In 2015 in a world rampant with poverty, Friend is the only hope for the people. Kanna and the Secret Base gang prepare to fight again. And they have to face a fateful event... Who is the last hope? What will happen to Kenji`s legacies? I hope you`ll enjoy the monster we created!" Takashi Nagasaki, Producer/Screenwriter "CHAPTER 2 is full of mystery to be unfolded in the Final Chapter" "20TH CENTURY BOYS -CHAPTER 2- is based on 10 volumes of the original comic series. To adapt it into a movie forced us to alter the story. When we were making a story for the comic series, we had many plot ideas we ended up not using. The second chapter of the trilogy employed one of those ideas. So it is still an extension of the comic series. A version of 20th Century Boys that could have been. This is a story revolving around Kanna and Otcho and Friend`s rise to God status. We made sure not to change the characters and their moral values, even if we had altered the story. The first chapter of the trilogy is made to look exactly like the comic series. But this one steps into an alternative universe. I`m confident that it retains the essence of the comic series for those who have never read it and those who have read it hopefully won`t find it strange either." "In this movie, the character of Sadakiyo asks himself, `Am I a good guy, or a bad guy?` It`s a question that`s thematically central to the story. Would words that were important to a child remain important as the person matured? His question makes us think of how a person transforms over the years." "Many seem to want to know who Friend is. But what Urasawa and I want to show is not who he is but what he is to us. I hope that we can get that point across to the audience. In the Final Chapter you will see what really happened in the apparent peace of Kenji and his friends` childhood. This movie lays out all the mystery to be resolved in the next chapter." Naoki Urasawa, Original Manga Artist/Story Consultant "Passing the baton of coolness, from one generation to the next"

    "20TH CENTURY BOYS is a drama about passing a baton from one generation to the next, so to speak. Perhaps the second chapter of the trilogy displays this the most. It`s set in a different time with new characters. As Otcho, Yukiji, Yoshitsune, etc. start to age, the younger generation ---Kanna, Kyoko Koizumi, Chono and Kakuta all become central to the story." "Many people have said to me that the grown-ups in 20TH CENTURY BOYS live cool lives. In my opinion, it`s very important for an adult to be cool and to be an inspiration to children. It`s one of the themes of 20TH CENTURY BOYS. Children are inspired by something cool and people they aspire to be. One reason children lose innocence is the disappointment they feel when they lose interest in what had once inspired them. They can keep that inspiration if what gave them the inspiration remains special." "For me the coolest inspiration that adults can give comes in the form of The Rolling Stones. They mockingly referred to themselves as old men in their 70s but when they perform live, they still are young and energetic. They really make me think that growing up is a cool thing." "Scenes in the second chapter of the trilogy that were adapted from the original comic series have many characters in complicated relationships. Their lives are revealed in many flashbacks, too. Every scene has equal weight and every line spoken is crucial. Making an adaptation of the comic series was an ordeal. I was impressed and also relieved to see how the actors meticulously realized their characters for the first chapter. Even in a short scene with brief dialogue, they made just as much sense and just the right dramatic impact. Also Director Tsutsumi has done an excellent job of putting together the complex second chapter as well as the first one. I am very grateful to him." _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    20th Century Elements: A 20TH CENTURY BOYS -CHAPTER 2- Glossary

    Umihotaru Officially known as Kisaragi Artificial Island in 2015, Umihotaru is a rest stop off the inter-Tokyo Bay highway, Aqua Line. It houses shops and restaurants and other entertainment facilities. Its operation started in 1997 together with Aqua Line.

    In the 20TH CENTURY BOYS universe, the tunnel accessing mainland Tokyo has long collapsed and Aqua Line is no longer functioning. Umihotaru now has a second life as a maximum stockade prison island. Number 3 Otcho is prisoner number 3 at Umihotaru Prison. The number 3 has a special connotation in Japan`s popular culture. Shigeo Nagashima is the legendary third base player of Tokyo Yomiuri Giants who played with the team from 1958 until 1974, and his uniform number was #3. The star player was dubbed Mr. Giants and even Mr. Professional Baseball League. When he retired, it was decided that #3 would never be used again by any other ball player. Nisshin Cup Noodle Known around the world as Cup-O-Noodles, this instant noodles-in-a-cup was born in 1971. The pioneering food product was introduced as a simple and quick food that could be eaten with hot water and a fork. Sold now in 80 countries, Cup Noodle has universal appeal.

    Spoon Bending In 1974 Yuri Gellar, a self-claimed psychic, visited Japan. He bent a spoon with his psychic powers on national TV, resulting in the nation-wide ESP boom. Many kids at the time tried to bend spoons, without success. Successful cases were later revealed to be some kind of trickery. Tokiwa-So Apartment House In the movie, comic book artist Mr. Ujiko and Ujio live in an old wooden apartment house. The name of the landlady is Takako Tokiwa and the apartment house is called Tokiwa-so (Tokiwa House). It`s named after an apartment house that once existed. Tokiwa-so in actuality was a famed apartment that hosted many famous comic book artists in their early years, starting with Osamu Tezuka who went to live there in 1953. Following him were Shotaro Ishinomori (then Ishimori), Fujio Akatsuka, Yoshiharu Tsuge, Tetsuya Chiba and more. In 1982 the building was so rundown it regrettably was demolished.

    National Kid A white mask worn by the young Sadakiyo. National Kid is a super hero starring in a TV show of the same title. The show was aired between 1960 and 1961 on Nippon Kyoiku TV (now TV Asahi Corporation). Toyota 2000GT Sadakiyo drives this famous sport car. The development of the car started in 1965 and went on sale in 1967. Skyline GT-R Takasu drives this popular Nissan sport car from the 1970s. Made popular with the advertisement catch copy, "A Skyline for Ken and Mary" it earned the nickname Ken-Mary. The Ken-Mary Takasu drives has a license plate number "39-39" for its phonetic pun, San Kyu San Kyu --Thank you, Thank you! Tetsujin Number 28

    Popularized overseas as Gigantor, it`s the name of a popular comic book story and its title character, a walking robot weapon. It was serialized in Shonen (Boys) magazine from 1956 to 1966, penned by the late Mitsuteru Yokoyama. The premise is that the Imperial Japanese Military forces developed a series of robot weapons and years after the end of the war, a boy genius Shotaro Kaneda acquires and remote-controls Robot #28 to fight the crime. It was later adapted into both TV cartoon and live action series. In January 2009 Mamoru Oshii directed a stage production of Tetsujin Number 28, his first stage to direct. There`s a glimpse of #28 robot hanging from the rear-view mirror in Sadakiyo`s Toyota 2000GT. One more reference in the movie is the name of the university student who died of the viral infection in Chapter 1 who was also Shotaro Kaneda.

    SON OF GODZILLA Kiriko watched this Toho monster movie with young Kenji when it came out in 1967. In this 8th installation of the Godzilla franchise, Minilla, Godzilla`s child hatches from an egg. The original GODZILLA was made in 1954, reflecting the horror of a nuclear threat as the radiation-mutated monster strikes back. For half a century after the first movie, there were 28 Godzilla movies made plus a Hollywood production. Ba-ha-hai! An elongated Bye Friend uses. It was the trademark farewell used by Keroyon, a man-sized frog character in a popular TV show MOKUBAZA HOUR (Mokubaza is a theater company lead by Seiji Fujishiro) in 1966 on Nippon TV Corporation. As Keroyon became a household name, he had many sold-out shows at impressive venues such as Budokan and Expo `70. In 1968, Keroyon starred in a feature movie, KEROYON AND THE GREAT AUTO RACE (directed by Seiji Fujishiro) when he drove his favorite Toyota 2000GT. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For more information on 20TH CENTURY BOYS please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:


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